Ashley LeMieux: She’s Brightening the Future for Inner-city Kids

February 22 - On The Dot
 
FIRST THOUGHT: Keep Calm and Shine On

Has anyone ever told you that when you walk into a room, you just shine? Yeah, me neither. But we’ve all known women who do. Maybe it’s just a shimmer or maybe it’s out-and-out Florida-style rays of sunshine. One definition of shine is “to be bright by reflection of light,” and that’s something we can all exemplify. If you feel self-pity or defeat, chances are Debbie Downer from IT will plop down beside you during lunch and make things worse. As hard as it is some days—especially if you can’t avoid the Debbie Downers in your life—shine bright, girlfriend! And by doing so, you might just attract even more positivity.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 30 Percent

People who often have an eminent glow are college students, particularly first-generation students. They beam with the knowledge that a whole new world has opened up to them, one in which they are afforded countless opportunities to expand their minds and better themselves. When I was in school, I recall being surprised how common it really is to be the first person in your family to attend and graduate from college. But with this designation often come myriad obstacles and challenges. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 30 percent of all freshmen entering the world of higher education are first-generation students, meaning more than a quarter of freshmen have no one to help explain how to navigate this confusing new terrain.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Ashley LeMieux, Founder and CEO of The Shine Project

Today’s Woman to Watch knows a thing or two about sunshine. Ashley LeMieux has plenty of it in Phoenix, Arizona, where her organization, The Shine Project, has spread its rays and is igniting hope for generations of kids who may not otherwise have the chance to improve their lives.

The Shine Project is a cause-driven apparel and jewelry business that employs inner-city youth with the goal of breaking the poverty cycle and instilling the values of hard work and self-reliance. But this life-changing company started humbly.

In fact, Ashley began The Shine Project simply as a blog while she was a college senior. As an aid at an inner-city high school, she heard students relay a sense of dread about their lives after high school, with many believing college wasn’t a possibility. Ashley knew she had to help. So, she took to social media to raise funds for a group of high-school seniors to attend college, and started her blog as an online space full of inspiration and motivation. Her idea was a success. And after awarding seven college scholarships, she doubled down on her mission, launching The Shine Scholarship Project, a nonprofit that would enable her to continue her benevolent venture.

As a way to continue raising money to help support these low-income college students, Ashley began designing bracelets. Her goal was to employ her first few scholarship students so they could support themselves. She dubbed this venture Threads by The Shine Project, and before long, turned her initial $500 jewelry-supplies investment into a sustainable and giving enterprise.

Since 2011, Ashley has awarded more than 40 scholarships, with 100 percent of donations going directly to the students. And currently, Threads by The Shine Project employs 11 inner-city students, who are mentored throughout their schooling to ensure their success.

If you’re as inspired by Ashley’s cause-driven business as we are, take some action. Purchase a piece of The Shine Project’s lovely jewelry or an adorable hoodie. Or take the awesome opportunity to sponsor a student, and give the lifetime gift of education.

QUITE THE QUOTE

Ashley LeMieux has grown immensely as a businesswoman and a radiant human being, and this anonymous quote has guided her along the way:

“Whatever you do, however you do it, make it happen.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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